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The U.S. health system could get some relief from rising drug prices from an unlikely source: a venture capitalist starting a new company to try to make medicines less expensive. 

Alexis Borisy, 47, is a fixture in Boston biotech, known for his striking felt fedoras. He co-founded Foundation Medicine and Blueprint Medicines, both of them based in Cambridge, Mass., and focused, in different ways, on using genetics to treat cancer — the kind of approach that has produced remarkable outcomes but also driven up the price of drugs. His next company, called EQRx and being launched Monday, seeks to bring them down. He will serve as both CEO and chairman.


“I’ve spent the last 25 years creating breakthrough new medicines,” Borisy said in an interview. “We’ve ratcheted up the prices on them ever higher, frankly, because we can,” he said. “And the reality is we can create a lot of these great new medicines, and turn that into a viable business charging a lot less for them. This is not fantasy world. This is something that can be done.”

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  • It is difficult to know on which side of the line between disingenuous and naivete this article falls. Though naivete is not likely.

    It is not reasonable that massively expensive drug prices in the US coexist or are soon followed elsewhere in the world by, the identical drug or “me too” at anywhere from 1/3 the price, to 1/100th the price, sometimes far more. No exaggeration. This holds for the most sophisticated genetically engineered, CRISPR implemented, biologicals, like the ones in this article, as well as the more classic agents simply repackaged or reformulated or, even worse, just re-patented, under another name and indication. This article is in the same vein. A new agent at a somewhat lower price, to gain market share. No industry is more sophisticated in its marketing and image creation.

    One has only to track the massively convoluted approval process and the corrupt patent process, to grasp the magnitude of the problem and the sophisticated, blindingly complex, under-the-table system, carefully created to protect and maintain the current exploiters and keep competition out. (This story is no different. The same parties. Different company and name.) The FDA has long ago been bought and paid for. The government influence budget of Big Pharma is roughly double the same category budget of the military industry. The calculated return has been estimated at over $700 per dollar invested.

    The current story seems more a sophisticated marketing and PR screed by bright, creative entrants who do deserve their business success by being smart, hard working and lucky. This article simply marks out their next step efforts. Another aspect of this sophistication is the careful study of these comments to further calculate the best marketing approach.

    Please know, I am all in favor of their success, as it does move health forward. But the price for Americans remains approximately 10x ( or more) the price the rest of the world, on average, pays.

    When the American populace wakes up (there’s little evidence so far) these companies will still be here, still capitalizing on basic research largely paid for by the taxpayers, but offered at a much more reasonable price, simply because the customer finally got smart enough to demand a bit more of their money’s worth.

    Been there, done that, calculated the markups, participated in the drug approval process from the inside a bit.


  • this article finally begins to address the real issue in healthcare. the issue isn’t access… albeit access is a central tenet, the real issue is cost. we literally spend more healthcare than any country in the world… and have the 33rd to 37th result depending on the metrics used to measure it’s success. we spend more on advertising than we do on R&D now. watch tv… first commercial is have toenail fungus? ask your doctor about … insert drug name… the second commercial… is did you take this drug? contact the law offices of… i fleeceem & freely… and yes i ripping off the 3-stooges. my point is and i quote the article, we raise drug prices… “because we can” anyone that doesn’t think … like public utilities… there needs to be a cap on profits.. and government oversight is crazy.

    • Greg:

      You have a point. We have to remember when the policeman (legislators) are in bed with the two entities (pharma and PBMs) not much will change. With respect to FDA they have made sure that in their current system, there is no competition. Legislators have made sure that anything that could benefit patients is not put in place otherwise they will loose their comfortable beds and great exotic foods.

  • 50mg tube of Clobetasol, retail $500 (!), after Humana discount “only” $135. Made by Smith Klein Glaxo, sourced USA. 50mg tube of Clobetasol made by Smith Klein Glaxo, sourced from Turkey via Canada, $20 plus $10 shipping. Same stuff. Now go ahead and tell me we aren’t getting screwed here.

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